An Attitude of Gratitude: The Importance of Appreciation During a Challenging Year

Each year as Thanksgiving rolls around, we find ourselves reflecting on what we’re most thankful for. A quick toast around the table finds family and friends thanking one another for a delicious meal, a relaxing vacation, recent fortune, or just some quality time together. This year, while our Thanksgiving tables may look a little different (and maybe a lot smaller), entertaining a perspective of thanks has never been so important.

Saying thank you is one of the first things we teach children, and for good reason – it demonstrates kindness, good manners, and has even been found to increase satisfaction in the workplace. However, in the midst of a difficult year, Thanksgiving is about much more than a simple thank you; it’s about cultivating an attitude of gratitude and learning to give thanks in ways that resonate. When we show appreciation, the things we are grateful for appreciate in value to us simply because we appreciate them. Understanding the importance of this expression of thanks and the benefit it brings to their organizations is something many employers have done throughout the pandemic.

At North Pier, we consult for a variety of clients including pension funds, endowments & foundations, family offices, hospitals, and hotels. In one of the most challenging years on record, the hospitality industry has taken a big hit during the pandemic. But despite the challenges they’ve endured, hotels have stepped up in the face of difficulty to give back those in need. “Our Omni Circle, which is an associate charitable foundation, distributed $3 million in grants to associates in need from April through August of this year. Associates made donations to the Omni Circle and the Rowling Foundation matched every dollar raised, by FIVE! We gave a life line to thousands of associates,” says Joy Rothschild, Chief Human Resources Offices for Omni Hotels & Resorts. Many of our hotels closed temporarily and distributed food to our furloughed associates with all of the products we had on hand,” continues Rothschild. “One of our General Managers, Orlando, and his wife packed mason jars with rice, beans, and tabasco sauce and hand delivered them to our 800 furloughed associates at their homes. To see a General Manager take the time to make and deliver meals to his staff was truly heartwarming.”

The reality is that while many companies have and are currently working hard to show employees appreciation, layoffs are inevitable. Some companies have used goodwill and an honest, transparent message to help ease the pain of job loss. At AirBnB [not a North Pier Client], CEO Brian Chesky sent out an emotional note to employees outlining the exact details of the layoff of 25% of the company, offering a severance of 14 weeks of base pay and health insurance coverage for 12 months, and amazingly maintained HR staff dedicated to finding laid off employees new jobs. The eventualities of this pandemic are wide reaching, but a personal and humane appreciation for those who have served you, even if you can no longer afford to keep them on, is significant.

This Thanksgiving, take the time to go the extra mile when it comes to expressing and importantly…feeling thanks, and don’t let the sentiment fade as soon as the plates are cleared from the dinner table.

Our team at North Pier also works with a number of foundations who dedicate their daily lives to serving causes and people in need. Woka Foundation, an organization focused on innovation, regenerative agriculture, gender equality, and education around reversing climate change, understands the value of gratitude, especially for its grantees. “We are so grateful for the extraordinary passion, personal commitment, and unselfish approach our grantees bring to their work restoring both the impoverished people and environmental vitality of our planet,” says Woka Foundation’s Rod Womer & Barbara Karplus. “We find that the relationship we build with our grantees and the words of appreciation we extend to them play a major part in their ability to stay energized and feel their labor is important. We, in turn, are grateful for their friendship, the freshness of their vision for the future, and the knowledge that our resources are having positive impacts on people and our planet.”

Hospitals have also dealt with unimaginable situations throughout the past year. They’ve not only had to put their lives on the line during a global pandemic, but they’ve struggled with the loss of business due to delayed treatments. Through it all, the hospital industry has remained vigilant, tenacious in their quest to ensure every American receives the care they deserve when needed. In a recent conversation with the leadership at Redlands Community Hospital, they shared a few words of appreciation for their hardworking staff. “We are thankful for the tremendous collaboration and heroic effort provided by our entire staff this year. As a committed team, they met unknown challenges and bravely cared for our community.”

An expression of gratitude can often give back, sometimes unexpectedly. North Pier’s Managing Partner, Jim Scheinberg, joined the Board of Advisors of the Political Science Department and the Sharpe Fellows Selection Committee at UCLA to give back to his alma mater. “I got involved with UCLA because I have a great deal of appreciation for the political science foundation that I gained while there. In expressing that appreciation, I’ve met a variety of accomplished individuals whom I eventually hired through the North Pier intern program. In giving back to my school, my school has given back to me with great talent,” says Scheinberg.

What is the purpose of gratitude, anyway? Growth, for one. Relationships with employees and colleagues strengthen when we express gratitude. When you pick up an extra cup of coffee in the morning or simply take time out of your day to ask how it’s going, it matters. And when people feel appreciated, they’re likely to pass it on; goodness begets goodness.

This Thanksgiving, take the time to go the extra mile when it comes to expressing and importantly…feeling thanks, and don’t let the sentiment fade as soon as the plates are cleared from the dinner table. Maintain an attitude of gratitude and see all the ways that it pays dividends all-year round for you and the world around you.

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